Here is a brief overview about North America: there are those who are super rich. Most of these people/families own and control the top 5 companies in every industry: banking, education, retail, agriculture, oil, pharmaceuticals etc.
The middle class is disappearing at an unprecedented rate and many people blame this on major companies for outsourcing and offshoring. Many people say it's JUST to save money. And although saving money is a major reason, I don't thinking you understand the many many other reasons which drastically sweeten the deal.
When I attended high school, classes went from 8:30-2:30. This included a 1 hour lunch and some small breaks. You largely get to choose the courses you take at will, based on interest, and you may have done anywhere from 1-3 hours of homework either a day, or per week.
Your weekends included partying with friends at least one night, maybe two, and Sunday night you'd spend some time cramming for a test early in the week. Or something similar, give or take a few hours.
Provided you did anywhere between ok and quite well, entrance to a program of your choosing at a school of your choosing was not overly restrictive. At most you faced stiff competition and had to have 80's to enter. But that's from high school grades.
In China, middle school students (ages 11-16) take classes from 7am - 6/7pm. Live at the school. Complete a specific extracurricular activity after school, then do 4-6 hours of homework -- per night. Weekends you spend doing homework, the only difference was you may do it at home with your family instead of at the school. My colleagues here tell me the average, ahem, AVERAGE, kid is about 4 years more advanced in MOST academics than in the West. Every university has INSANE entrance exams that make year long cumulative finals in Western universities look like a joke, and you're competing with hundreds of thousands, of other kids. Many of whom score straight 90's -- in everything! So even if you're the best in your class, or even your school, chances are you below average in China.
I teach kids 3-6 years old up until 8pm on Saturday and Sunday here in China, and you complain about starting school at 8am, finishing at 2, and have weekends off. It gets better, while you're competing with the millions of students who are all on honour roll, if you don't get certain grades, the school tells you what you study based on economic demand. You don't get to choose. And you still need to compete with hundreds of thousands for jobs afterwards so it's no walk in the park. How's that 8-2 and weekends off sounding?
Our politicians have no problems continuously reducing spending on education, the schools are in poor shape physically, even if you're school is brand new, it likely doesn't have fancy new technology. I teach these kids English and every single classroom has a smartboard. Not even every high school, or even half of the high schools in Ontario have those!
So when companies choose to offshore, yup, they do save money. The millions of people here are not only 4 years smarter than you, they'll work harder, for less, accomplish more, in a shorter time and do a better job. I would know, I've hired a team personal assistants from India (2-4, task depending) who complete tasks I require (anything from booking an appointment to financial analysis of bank records and more) for $12/hr (combined) and they do an amazing job! You simply can't compete with this sophisticated civilian army.
Then, consider the currency exchange here is not just slightly more favourable (think back to those few precious months when the CA$ was about 20% more valuable than the USD my dear Canadians), but more like 5-10X more favourable, if not more so. What does that mean? It means converting from $/€/£ gets you much much more bang for your buck.
Furthermore the laws here are so much more liberal for businesses to operate.
The Information Age -- A sign of the times:
It gets worse. We are in the Information Age. We also have advanced communications and technology. The Chinese teach children in elementary school the basics of programming. It's mandatory. So combine fantastic computer skills on top of excellent science and math skills coupled with millions of people in similar standings, who will work for a fraction of someone with half the skills in North America and you can see how it looks. Doom and gloom is an understatement. Information is also not location specific. It can be obtained from anywhere in the world and modified/edited or updated by somebody anywhere else. It's information and data which will be the new driver of our economy, and we aren't being taught anything about how to create, manage or sell it.
I'm not trying to bash people in North America like I'm better than anyone or different. I'm sitting here writing this and feel utterly in shock. Kids in America are fat, eat countless amounts of junk food, endure rages over video games and twinkies and are passed in class so as not to be embarrassed by friends. Asia is steadily roaring ahead with a massive crowd, in the millions, who are educated, tech-savvy, extremely disciplined and who know China is rapidly becoming the next world super power. These kids have spent their life hearing about the extreme poverty China has emerged from some 30-45 years ago from their parents. And these parents are hell-bent on ensuring they don't return. They want the kind of life they saw the West enjoy, for themselves, in their homeland, and they're taking it!
What needs to change.
No matter how much money the government says they'll spend on education, NONE of it will matter unless there are considerable changes to the way the education system operates. It should include the following:
1. Every child should learn to code from kindergarten. The basics. Just like English. It should be mandatory all the way to at least the end of high school.
2. Math and science curriculum need significant upgrades and should be required throughout high school.
3. Arts and music, see number 2.
4. Entrepreneurship should be required starting in grade 6. Don't count on having the role of a job in the historical sense. These will be replaced by outsourcing or robots. Not a single one of you can say "my job won't get removed, you can't replace _____ with a robot". Yeah. That's what every person whose job has been replaced said once upon a time. Let me tell you how you know if your job can be replaced: if it has a step-by-step process (oh wait, that's each job), someone can code it into an algorithm. Voila. Done. You're gone. If Google AI can win 5 consecutive rounds of Go (a Chinese game considerably harder than Chess), what makes you think you're so special and talented you're irreplaceable? You're sense of "feeling"? Nope. That's being programmed too (see the different versions of AI coming in the future which account for reason,emotion). And if not, a combination of sensors, cameras, an Internet connection, big data and analytics can do a better job than you can. Doctor? Surgeon? Same thing. Internet connected, ultra-precise robots with tools and techniques beyond human capability will be used in the not-so-distant future. What about body analytics and customized medicines? What we need entrepreneurs for is to learn how to create value. To identify and solve problems. "Getting a job" is financial suicide in this upcoming world.
5. Think global. Thinking global, and beyond the Earth will be required in the future. Colonizing Mars, asteroid mining, interplanetary exploration are all currently being worked on. We need to train people who will address the needs and wants of those in cultures around the globe and take us beyond; people who are creative visionaries.
6. Technology. Schools should be places where you learn to use the most advanced technology. Yet many schools still use paper and pencil. There is a major gap when people graduate and go to jobs and the companies spend significant resources to get people trained on how to use the technology because the private sector is drastically more technologically advanced than what education systems are prepping them for.
7. Online income. If the education system does not educate people on how to earn income online and from a variety of sources, the income gaps will simply become exponentially wider.
The world is advancing. Education, especially in the West, needs to kick it into serious high gear. It's funny how Westerners joke about how the Asian kids at their universities are the "nerds" or "smart ones". The irony and sad part, they're often the ones who aren't good enough for university in Asia. Competition with the left-overs from Asia isn't even the real competition, and these "left-overs" are whipping our asses.
So what do I see for the West in the future, perhaps even start to really show near the middle/end of my lifetime? A couple options if nothing changes:
A) The wealth gap will continue to widen. The existing wealthy will continue to ride this wave of development in the East and live even more flamboyantly in the West. While the existing and increasingly uneducated will become significantly poorer.
B) The wealthy will move to the East and the world will progress there for the next few hundred years as it did in the West for the previous years. Those left in the West will see their life become what those in the East have dealt with up until recently.
One night in Spring 2012, my girlfriend at the time was driving my car when a ball-bearing joint broke. It was late and in the core of Toronto. After getting the car towed, and spending a few nights in my ex girlfriends old place, I acted on her suggestion of moving to a student residence close by. I had a job and was attending school and now lived right by UofT, St. George campus. Then entire event caught me off guard and taught me a lesson on being prepared, nimble and flexible financially and personally. It's these unforeseen life events which cause us to change how we live, what we do and to look at the world through a new lense.
Throughout the 4 years I lived in Toronto, I managed to attain a positive net worth, and was working on really developing my investment portfolio. In the Spring of 2015, I had a strong urge to sell my investments and go abroad to Auroville, India (at the suggestion of 3 independent strangers within the same day) the day after an intense magic mushroom trip, and delayed to the point of not going. This is what essentially started the whole idea of actually going abroad. I don't know how to describe how or why this was the result, but it really caused me to pay more attention to my intuition.
In the last week of Jan 2016, I was talking with a young lady who just came back from a 14 month trip abroad; she encouraged me to move abroad as soon as mid-March 2016! I insisted it was too close of a timeline and refuted with multiple reasons in attempt to justify my delay and leave by Sept '16. A few days later, I was looking at some websites for getting certified to teach English abroad, and found one operating out of the OISE building at UofT, it was offering courses as soon as the following Wednesday from when I was calling (the Friday before). Once the man on the phone told me people have gone abroad within 30-45 days after completion, I was stunned and convinced: the universe was signaling me to go and take this new life direction!
48 hours after paying my tuition for this new program, I had applied to 13 job applications on the program website. Coincidentally, my time of application was during the first thing Monday morning in China. I had 5 interview requests within 12 hours of applying! I accepted an offer the following day, after receiving 4 requests out of the 5 interviews. The course hadn't even started yet and I already had a job and confirmed a contract!
After completing the course, I sold my possessions, cashed out investments to pay off some debt, and booked flights.
During this period I become a completely new person, I was accomplishing so much each day in getting my affairs in order before going! I had this tunnel vision, I completed tasks immediately to get them done and out of the way, everything which would have normally caused me to procrastinate and delay was now a mere object in the way of achieving this newfound goal. Perhaps the reason so many of us have trouble sticking with goals we set is they are too average, boring and tedious. I believe having some kind of large scale project to work on gives me, and potentially you, the grandousity to work and reach new heights! Try it, you'll be surprised.
Throughout this entire period everything just came together seamlessly, it showed just how powerful the laws of attraction really are. I believe when a person gets in this kind of state, we emit an energy which draws what we seek to us. Doing everything with a strong sense of urgency proved to me I can accomplish so much. Each of these menial tasks are so petty, yet so many people live their lives focusing on it.
Throughtout February, I had booked numerous appointments at clinics, all of which aligned perfectly, I had Airbnb guests stay at my place while I visited family in Bowmanville, took at ski trip in Quebec and visited more family in Sault Ste. Marie. In total, my guests generated an extra $1,050 for me. I managed to sell an many of my posessions generating several hundred extra. On the day I was moving out, a deal to give my bed to the landladys' real estate agent fell through, so I put an ad on Kijiji for someone with a vehicle, their own tools and able to come get the bed in an hour could have the frame, mattress and box spring for $100 -- and someone did. None of my guests gave me any problems, my landlady allowed me to terminate the lease early without paying it out, and my new contacts in China were very supportive. The supporting visa documents arrived late, but once they came in, the visa itself cleared in less than 24 hours! That's my life, when things just aligned and worked out. If you're willing to be a creative problem solver and see solutions, the world opens up for you!
I really wanted to share with everyone just how easy it is to get out there and do the things you want in life. It doesn't cost as much as you think, and the process becomes much easier as you go along! For those things which do cost a lot, is it worth pausing or cancelling your dream(s) for some relatively small amount of money? Perhaps you only think this amount is large because you are unlearned in how to obtain such an amount? Maybe learning or approaching objectives in a new light will make things simpler (not necessarily easier) for you.
It's so liberating to just be able to go to whichever country to teach English and really explore the world as I please! I'm taking one backpack (60L), my iPhone and iPad and going to give this new life a shot. I figure, if I can make the progress I've made, while supporting myself, during school and in one of the most expensive cities to live, then I should be able to handle going abroad to live where the cost of living is cheaper, I earn more, work less and don't pay rent.
This is it, my effort to make my mark on the world, to inspire someone to do the same and to learn something new! I've always said to #CreateYourOwnSuccess and this is me going out and making my actions louder than my words!
As I left my apartment to go for a burger and to play poker with my new colleagues, I walked outside my building into the warm still air.
The city is surprisingly quiet. And despite 15m people, my area isn't overly crowded. In fact, I'd even say quite a bit less so than Toronto, with the people more dispersed. This is likely due to the massive streets here.
Perhaps it's just me, or maybe I'm still unconsciously in denial, or culture shock hasn't set in yet, but, I like it. I feel relaxed and at ease.
I'm not quite at the stage in my new life and travels where I earn all (or any) of my income online following Tim Ferriss' methods, yet I fee I have taken a major step in the right direction. After all, I just managed to move to the other side of the world in 60 days -- no small feat.
Over the past several months, I've noticed myself feeling more primal, nomadic and reflective of human evolution from that of other animals. The North American approach where we work ourselves to death is madness. We perpetually slave away for countless and worthless objects which are not only meaningless but fleeting. I want to earn passive income online, just enough to supply my food, shelter and means of transportation and spend my time with a partner trying new activities, wondering around, and exploring.
My colleagues and I went to the Blue Frog for dinner, then over to MOSCATEL for a few drinks and poker (which I ended up winning, and turned 50¥ in to 200¥, alongside a 5L mini keg of Heineken which I let them keep for next week when my colleagues visit).
Tianjin has me feeling settled and comfortable, my colleagues are fun, and the city is beautiful. The weather this time of year is great and I'm off to a great start on my travels. Welcome, to the rest of my life.
Today I go and get a SIM card with a friend of mine from the school, after waiting an hour in queue, we get me connected on a data only plan with 11Gb! Guess how much it costs? $60! No minutes or text, but guess what? Everyone uses WeChat, and the people I talk to back home use iMessage/FB Messenger or the like.
The down side? I toss it in my phone only find it only works on EDGE! :( Now, EDGE is decently fast considering it's 2G, but I'm going to need to get a new phone because 2G is not going to cut it for me here. To further complicate matters, I want the next iPhone presumably launching in September.
Debating what to do. I could send my phone back to Canada and have a friend sell it. The conversion alone would conver a new phone here. I really want the iPhone 7 Plus. So buying a 6S/6S Plus seems dumb, kinda open to trying a Hauwei/Samsung phone and could resell it here. Not sure what to do. Really thought the SIM would work on 3G, I knew LTE wasn't going to happen.
Silver lining: data here is much cheaper but it's no use having 11Gb plan if my phone runs insanely slow.
After wondering around a bit and taking it easy (due to my cold), I found some food that looked like what I had with some of the other teachers yesterday for lunch.
The only thing was I needed a rice cooker. So then I venture back to the supermarket near my place called Carrefour (kinda like Wal-mart, not sure if it's a chain store or not). And started browsing for a rice cooker. I finally found one and started looking at food. You wouldn't believe how many different kinds of rice there are! It took me like 15 minutes to find someone young who spoke English and after all the discussion, I get home and my Chinese housemate tells me I bought the wrong rice!
Not that big of a deal, she helped me toss it in the rice cooker (which I'm waiting for now), and then I can eat it. I don't know what any of the buttons mean on the rice cooker. And the instructions? Yup. Only in Chinese. Meanwhile, back in Canada, we have the instructions in every language possible.
Its definitely an adjustment. The Chinese are friendly, which is a big help. The Chinese way of doing things is whichever gets it done fastest. It's laser focused. For example, today while walking, I saw a cable/wire coming out of the sidewalk, laid across the sidewalk, then up the side of a building and strung across several nails over some windows and then inside a window. And nobody here seems to mind. Take a look at this photo and you'll get an idea of the "whatever works" approach I'm referring too:
It seems to me nothing is new to the Chinese. They all seem indifferent. I saw this random old lady just stop and blow her nose on the sidewalk and then keep moving. Nobody even stopped or looked! Or someone on a scooter may ride through an intersection, weave around multiple cars, and in the wrong direction - nobody cares. It's not new. They simply shift a little on the road and keep going. Lanes and right-of-way, ha, those don't mean anything. Merely a suggestion.
It sounds scary, and chaotic, but it isn't. It's the hustle and bustle. The city has a flow which keeps it shuffling along. It feels, more free. More like the old days where you did what you needed and nobody bothered you about it. Almost as if there were less social constructs. It's hard to explain, you need to see it.
When moving to China, it's important to remember a few things.
1. Everyone is paid once a month, so plan accordingly
2. You'll need at least one months expenses saved up before coming
3. When signing a lease, it's common to pay one month deposit, then 3 months rent upfront
4. When signing a lease you may be required to split or cover the property manager fee (typically one months rent). In my case it was half a month for me and half a month for the landlady
5. The currency, as of this writing, is $1=~4.8¥ aka if you need 1000¥ it'll cost you $210CAD
6. Many of the brands you're comfortable with in NA are here, and it isn't much cheaper, if at all in stores. Online is a different story
7. Yuan and RMB are like saying Bucks and Dollars respectively
8. You may be required to provide your fingerprint in red ink on top of your signature for signing documents like a lease
A trip such as this can have multiple unforeseen obstacles. You have to creatively adapt to solve the problem.
When I arrived at the airport, I tried to get a sim but it didn't work (so no connection with my contact here), I managed to make my way throughout the BJ subway system (which makes TO subway look like a joke), on to the bullet train and to TJ.
By this time it had been 4 hours since I landed, and because I hadn't communicated with my contact, they went home for the night instead of picking me up.
It's all good, I found a hotel and got settled. I caught a cold the day of leaving so the cigarette smoke smelling room sucked. The first thing I've learned to appreciate about Canada is how strong the laws are on prohibiting smoking. And less of the population smokes as well.
So how do you solve such a problem? I used some of my essential oils to rub on my feet and neck to help with the cold, then boiled some water with a few drops in the kettle to have the steam make the room smell nice. I then left the water in the kettle over night so I can use it the next morning as my drinking water.
The photos attached are of the platforms for trains. All of them are electric, and go 290km/h silently and without vibration from internal combustion engines. The top photo is the 3rd or 4th floor of this building. It's apparent how much the government spends on infrastructure here.
For those of you who are quite tall and visiting China, take the stairs instead of escalators. The step sizes are much smaller and it's easy to take two at a time while everyone else stands on the escalator.
The time has come! I am at the airport, waiting for some lunch before boarding the flight.
This moment has been delayed but now I shall seize it! You must realize your life is a series of choices and it is all of them combined which leads you to be where you are in the present.
Make damned sure you love what you're doing, and gauge this by how much you'll sacrifice for it, and then putting all your efforts into achieving a predetermined outcome! You'll learn much along the way, and achieve more than you thought possible. It's time you dream bigger than ever, because if you aren't doing something grand, why do it at all?
If you are looking to write the next chapter of your life, the best thing to do is to dramatically tighten the timeline and give it everything you have!
24 hours from now, I’ll be boarding a jet, flying to China and starting my new life!
The past 2 months have been surreal as I planned, prepared and executed my lifestyle design change.
Your life absolutely can change in 1 minute, 1 hour or 1 day. The best part? You have the ability to do so, at any point, you must simply find something worthy of your time.
I wouldn't say I'm nervous, I'm excited! Will there be bumps along the way? Of course, I'll address those when they arrive. It's vital not to overthink small worries into major fears which paralyze you. Start by starting and correct along the way.
Many of my fears have been addressed when I wrote them out, there severity, and permanence. This helped me realize I was making a big deal out of small, unlikely and non-permanent issues, many of which didn't even happen. In the event they did, and some did, I simply continued to strive forward in relentless pursuit of making this life change happen.
J.K Rowling says if you're so scared of failure that you don't do anything, then you've failed by default.
There is is no failure if you learn from your experience of trying.
As part of my life change to move to China and start a life where I live a more healthy, mobile and technologically influenced life, it has been decided I'd take advice from my mom (who follows the naturopathic route, as much as possible), and purchased some essential oils from this company called dōTERRA.
This company produces essential oils from 100% natural ingredients with zero pesticides (organic is only requires 60-70% free of pesticides). The company also only buys the plants from where they naturally grow in the world.
These can be applied to the skin, roof of the mouth, drank in water or used as an air freshener. I attended a class with my mom and tried the oils and the work fast and last a long time. They can be used for everything from a body scent, to flavoured water to replacements for many nasty products we regularly use which are often petroleum based ie. Shampoo, creams, "medicines", cleaning products and many more, see photo below for a sample of the different oils, and what they can replace!
I I use the lemon to flavour my water and it tastes great! It can also aid in digestion, and is a great cleanser.
The second oil I purchased is the On Gaurd oil. It's a powerful detoxifier and helps build/maintain the immune system.
I'd highly recommend checking out their website at www.doterra.com for more information on this super high quality oil, it's everyday practical uses and it supports a company who is uber conscious about personal health.
A friend referred me to this video. It's very insightful, powerful, and thought provoking. It addresses the litany of issues our generation faces and commands the actual change needed by the 99%!
Watch the video, if it doesn't change your opinion, or if you don't care about the world you live in, go back to your thought pattern after watching it, but do watch it. If you do not feel your rights are worth it, then fight for my rights and those of us who want this world a better place for everyone.
It's time we, as millennials, stand up, fight for what we deserve and show the establishment that our rights must be restored and preserved!
If you are reading this and have the ability to vote in America, please, Vote Anonymous. Help propel this movement to reality. When you are older, and this uprooting has happened, and the world is a better place because of it, you can proudly tell your children and grandchildren you were apart of the major change which allowed them to enjoy the comfortable life they have.
The last, and most important piece of the puzzle, the Chinese Z Visa!
It was supposed to arrive last Monday, however it was sent to one of my old addresses, then sent back to the shipping company. After I called and told them I didn't need a signature for verification of delivery, it was not left at the door as requested (because nobody was home) - causing further delays. It arrived last Wednesday, right after I left for Kingston, to visit my amazing sister, for a few days.
Then, on Monday this week, I went and applied at the Chinese visa office for urgent visa application. I decided to try my luck and see if I could do a walk-in appointment. Part of the reason for my moving the flight date back to Mar 22, from the 15, was due to the visa website saying you need an appointment (and the earliest one was today, the 17th). It didn't say people with urgent applications could walk in, and further more, it quoted urgent applications at 2-4 business days if you drop it off by 11:30.
When I dropped off my application, on the 14th at 11:20am, the pretty young lady said I could pick it up the 15th starting at 9am! I was a little annoyed because had this information been on the website (urgent applicants don't need an appointment and it was this fast), I could have picked up my passport just before going to the airport and left on March 15!
It was annoying, though I understand it wouldn't have been a good idea to play things so close together. Perhaps I should have had a little more faith it would work out. After all, the entire month of February was back-to-back appointments which shouldn't have aligned so easily, but did.
It's weird, the girl who really pushed me to make this life change immediately (in late Jan '16) was exactly right. To the exact day! She said I could leave by mid-March! She called that on Jan 19, 2016, impressive. I honestly feel and think she was a messenger whose purpose was to cross paths with me, give me the final push to make this move and quote me the time.
It's amazing how things all work out!
It's a different level of real now. Despite moving, selling my posessions, getting medical check-ups, shots and buying tickets, there was still the possibility things wouldn't work out or something would mix up the move to China. Everything has been taken care of now. It's real. It's final - I'm, moving, to, China!
Welcome everyone to the Solo Trip Abroad! This is the launch of my first blog post, on my first website which will cover my travels as I take on this new adventure to travel the world, starting by teaching English in Tianjin China!
The website will expand to offer new services, donations, a web store, travel blog, galleries and more! I will be sharing content on social media networks: Instagram: @josh647, Twitter: @josh647, Facebook: josh.allen.948.
I now will approach everyday life with a few basic guidelines I have established. Some are new, some are old, but nonetheless, I feel I can benefit from such an approach:
1. Work Mobile, Consume Local, Live Global
2. Health. Wealth. Learning.
3. Dream. Develop. Do.
I have more posts coming and will keep everyone updated. Thanks for checking out my blog/site. Please subscribe to my various social media accounts for updates!
See you somewhere in the world!